Family: Father of one son, who is a Freshman at St. Michael – Albertville High School. I come from a family of three sisters and two brothers.
Occupation: Own my own business, FitzSimmons Family Farms. Work extensively with my family business that my dad and his brothers own and operate.
Previous civic and community involvement: Have volunteered at nursing homes, church activities, and school activities. Served as volunteer chairman for the Wright County Republican Party for the past 4 years and as volunteer chairman for the 6th Congressional District Republican Party for the past 3 years.
1. Why are you running for office?
I believe Minnesota can better position itself in a economy that is more competitive than ever. A recent study placed Minnesota in the bottom 10 states for business climate. A growing state economy will help all of our citizens. Good jobs here in Minnesota will keep our best and brightest graduates staying and returning to Minnesota to start their adult lives.
2. Current state budget projections, when inflation is factored in, foresee an upcoming state budget deficit. If a deficit occurs, should that be remedied solely through budget cuts? If not, what revenue generators would you support?
The best way to generate more revenue is to increase economic activity. More private sector businesses and employees means more tax revenue. This will not happen by increasing the already heavy tax burden on Minnesotans.
3. Do you favor expanding Northstar Commuter Rail to St. Cloud, assuming ridership improves? Was the decision to establish a commuter rail line in the transportation corridor a good decision or bad one?
First of all there is no reason to assume ridership will improve. I believe we would have been far better served by an additional lane from Elk River to Minneapolis which could have been done with less initial expense and continued to pay for its own upkeep through the gas tax rather than tax money from the general fund.
4. In general, are public schools adequately funded in Minnesota? If not, where should additional money come from?
I believe the State of Minnesota rightly places a high priority on education. I believe there are changes that can be made in the funding mechanisms to take out some of the disparity. School districts like Elk River and St. Michael – Albertville receive far less in state dollars than those in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
5. Do you support so-called Last In, First Out (LIFO) legislation that could allow school boards to call back a laid-off teacher with less seniority over another with more, if the teacher is deemed a more skillful teacher?
I believe that decisions are best left to those closet to the students. Our school boards are elected by our communities and I believe they should be empowered to make the hiring policies they see as best in serving the students and the community.
6. Do you support passage of the two proposed constitutional amendments, Photo ID and the same-sex marriage ban, currently on the ballot?
I do support both constitutional amendments.
7. Can lawmakers do anything to help improve the state’s economy?
Yes. Keep the tax burden as low as possible. Make sure regulation is reasonable and efficient. Effective transportation spending, we need to make sure we use our transportation dollars go to the most useful projects. Expansion on HWY 10, HWY 101, and I-94 in the Elk River – Otsego area should be top priorities for the state, the facts support the economic benefits.
8. If you could sign three laws into effect today, what would they be?
1) Eliminate the Minnesota Commercial Property Tax.
2) Eliminate the requirement to contribute to workman’s comp for LLCs without employees, who can not receive benefits.
3) Complete restructuring of the public school funding formula to bring equity in education.
9. What legislation would you support to reduce the number of abortions?
As a pro-life candidate, I would support various initiatives that seek to reduce the number of abortions and support women, especially those that the majority of Minnesotans support such as ending taxpayer funded abortions, prohibiting abortions on babies that are capable of feeling pain, and providing support to women who are pregnant.
10. The Elk River Area School District is seeking an operating levy renewal and an additional levy to in part provide for all day, every day kindergarten. Is that appropriate, or should the state provide the funding for this endeavor.
I believe this is a decision local school districts have made and are making and so it is appropriate that the funding come from local levies.
11. What energy policies are needed in the state of Minnesota?
Utility costs are one of the main cost drivers for business and we need to do what we can to keep those low. I believe we need to make sure we make use of all energy options, including clean coal, natural gas, and nuclear power.
12. What changes in health care reform would you push if elected?
I believe there are huge problems with the planned implementation of Obamacare. I believe we need to continue to work to repeal that legislation by pressuring congress. The medical device tax component alone will result in job loss in that sector, which employs many people in this area.
Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce Questions
Would you describe yourself as “Pro-Business” and if yes, what makes you Pro-Business?
Yes. I would describe myself as pro-business. I have always worked in the private sector with my families business and owning my own business. Everything that slows businesses from open, expanding, and hiring more people should be examined and eliminated if the purpose it serves doesn’t out weigh the cost.
What proposal do you have to ensure effective teachers in every classroom in the State of Minnesota?
The state’s school funding formula needs to be completely reworked, we need to assure that Minneapolis and St. Paul don’t continue to get more than they should at the expense of districts like Elk River, St. Michael-Albertville, and Buffalo-Montrose-Hanover. I also believe school boards should be able to determine hiring based on merit and performance.
What policy changes would you support in higher education that will lead to an emphasis in producing people ready for work in the jobs available while also closing the skills gap?
Eliminate the mandate to spend a certain percentage of new buildings to art. The schools should be free to dedicate buildings that do the most to help educate in the skills needed. Encourage more cooperation between high schools and trade and tech schools.
What changes to the state’s property tax system do you believe are necessary to improve its competitiveness, understandability and administration?
We should eliminate state commercial property tax. Restructuring the school funding formula will lighten the burden on most local property tax payers.
Should energy rates be set to reflect the actual costs of serving a group of customers in a specific class instead of having one class of customers subsidize another?
Is funding for Highway 10 improvements a priority? Why or why not?
Yes. Highway 10 and I-94 are the major highways that serve commuters to the twin cities, tourist travel, and commercial traffic from Minneapolis to booming North Dakota. I can not think of a higher priority corridor in Minnesota.